Regular Citizens' Privileges
The key theme of the novel Matched by Ally Condie is that rules and order are needed in a society to keep every citizen safe and healthy. In the novel, the Society is perceived by its citizens as a perfect society. The protagonist, Cassia Reyes, is a huge supporter of the Society and thinks that it is the most perfect society yet, at least in the first half of the story. This perception of the Society is evident in Chapter 4 of the book, when Cassia says, “I don’t understand. The Society doesn’t make mistakes.” (36), right after her microcard malfunction occurred. This belief that the Society is perfect, and looks out for the best interest of its people, provides sufficient reason for its citizen to sacrifice their own freedoms in favour of social stability. To achieve order, the Society relies heavily on predictability and probabilities. The citizens in the Society believes that the Society restricts their calorie intake by customizing each citizen’s meal, ensuring that they get adequate exercise using the tracker, as well as calculating for their “Match”, for their own good.
In this short passage from the novel, is a scene where, the Society ordered for the maple trees in Maple tree Borough to be chopped down as they are not growing uniformly. In the first sentence, Cassia’s mother appears to be very unhappy and needed to be comforted by her husband by putting his arm around her. The unhappiness of her mother is due to her love for plants.The passage emphasizes a recurring theme of having rules and order for the good of everyone as they chop down trees that has different length or sizes. This recurring pattern throughout the book shows that any divergence or being different from the norm is threat from keeping the system how it is and that they have to be dealt with. One example of this are the Aberrations. The Aberrations are not full citizens; they do not have the regular citizens’ privileges such as the opportunity of being matched, owning an artifact or even having any of the three tablets. How they are being “dealt with” is through the Society assigning them to work in Disposal Departments, where revealed in Chapter 4, that the food that the elderly consumes on the day of their Final Banquet are poisoned. (80) This explains why the life expectancy of Aberrations are low; that they could not reach the age of 80 like most of the citizens do. Additionally, this parallels to how the Society molds every citizen to be to keep order. In the Society, citizens are constraint to create anything original themselves; they are constraint from standing out or being unique just like the maple trees. This is apparent in Chapter 7 of the book, where Cassia’s grandfather tells Cassia that her final gift to him are not on her words but instead, citizens have these pre-written words that they can put into their scribes. (20) This reveals that almost everyone in the Society do not know how to write, instead they copy the words of the others. The last sentence of the passage is a metaphor to how citizens with diseases, who are mostly the elderly, are “chopped down” just like the maple trees because for the Society, this is better rather than having to wait for the elderly to develop more diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. (94)
Another concept that is related to the central theme mentioned above is the concept of limitation. It is closely related to order as in order for the Society to make their citizens to obey the rules and maintain the social structure, they have to regulate their citizens’ lives, the culture around them —their environment. In the Society, songs, stories, poems, paintings are limited to only one hundred entries of each category. The reason for doing so is to control what the citizens can consume and ensure that no poem, song or painting can influence a citizen to develop rebellious thoughts. Another example illustrating how the Society limits its citizen’s lives are their occupation; each citizen is restricted to learning only one job. A person who works on the Arboretum do not learn how to sort. In comparison, Sorters do not learn about plants. These limitations keep every citizen in the Society in check and everything in balance.